You know, the strange thing about growing up in middle America in the 70s (or any decade, I imagine) is that families kept up this "air" about them.
Do you hear what they say on the rare occasion they catch a serial killer - like Jeffrey Dahmer for example - the neighbors. What do these serial killers neighbors say (almost always) about the accused?
"He was so quiet. Nobody had any problems with him... he seemed a little odd, but he kept to himself."
This is what it was like growing up with my family. My mom stayed at home with us kids.. who were "so well behaved" (yeah, we were in fear for our very existence, but hey.. that's alright) and we kept our house nice. While our family certainly wasn't anything like serial killers, we were like the good neighbors that never bothered anyone. Everyone around us thought my dad was a hard working family man. And he was... except for one small thing.
He thought violence was the way to 'solve' things. Again, I don't think my dad is a 'bad' person... after all, he is my dad and I do love him. I know to some people that may sound weird, especially after you read some of my other experiences later on... but how can a child NOT love their parents? They are a part of you, whether you want them to be or not.
Now, there was a time I would actually fantasize about 'getting revenge' for all the times he humiliated me, beat me and made me feel like I was worth about as much as a freshly stepped into pile of dog shit. In fact, as I was entering my teen years and the beatings got worse.. my brother and sister were pre-teen and we'd all gather in my room with a tape recorder and pretend to have a newscast.
We'd talk about my dad and his latest rampage in the __________ household and how three children overtook him and had their day. Sad? Yeah.. it was. I'm almost ashamed we'd talk about it. Sitting around my room while he was driving and talk about how when he gets old and unable to walk, how we'd push him down the stairs in his wheelchair. My face is bright red now... talking about it. Even mentioning it has me shaking and it's hard to type. I believe I was 14, my brother was 11 and my sister was around 8 1/2. We were kids and yet we were 'planning' our fathers demise.
Don't tell - please don't tell.. you'll only make it worse!
I think all of us just wanted the senseless crap to end. We all agreed (as adults) that there were times we were on the receiving end of spankings and there were times we agreed - We deserved them! I mean, we were kids and we got into stuff we shouldn't have.. we lied about it.. and we were just generally non-compliant at times and so yes, there were times we believed we deserved what we got.
But not welts... not cuts.... not black eyes, bruises, joints that hurt so badly we couldn't literally sit for days...
I was tired of being told, "I wish you'd never been born!" and the many, many other derogatory things he used to say. I was tired of my mom... just standing there... pretending it'd all go away. She hardly ever said anything.
My sister and I joked a few years ago about how when we'd see dad coming at us, we'd know to make our bodies go limp. That was so he didn't break anything. How weird now to think, that her and I laughed about something so traumatizing. And it was... this wasn't just a whipping gone bad.. this was a way of life. Until we all moved out - we thought that was how things were supposed to be.
How messed up is that?